Book Club at the End of the World
Guest Post by D.L. Snell
Innovative Online Book Tours
Innovative Online Book Tours
The characters of our novel, PAVLOV’S DOGS, don’t have time to read. Zombies are slow, but they’re not that slow. Any downtime our characters get, they’re spending it barricading, rationing, or cleaning guns. In the case of the Dogs, they spend it getting hormone therapy to ensure the werewolf ability to change on command. But as our characters are carrying out these mundane chores, they do have some time to dwell on what they miss about the world. One thing they miss dearly is curling up with a great book. You might be surprised by some of their reading preferences.
Ken Bishop, de facto leader of the human survivors, was a general contractor. During winter when construction slowed, was when he got in most of his reading time. Ken is a huge fan of the Spenser novels, except for the last few before Robert B. Parker’s death – it felt like the dude was kind of phoning those in. Ken likes to think of himself as the same type of man as Spenser: brave, loyal, honest, a modern paladin.
As a kid, Ken hated Catcher in the Rye. It wasn’t just because he was forced to read it in school. It was just... the narrator seemed so aimless, and Ken has never been without a cause. Because of his dislike for Salinger’s book, the young Ken almost skipped Lord of the Flies. He’s now kind of glad his teacher forced the book report on him because that shit’s disturbing. Lord of the Flies has helped Ken better understand human nature in survival situations, which in his world is very good knowledge to have. It showed him that structure and leadership is crucial, but the wrong man for the job can breed paranoia, superstition, discrimination, and cruelty. And a complete breakdown of order.
Ken’s best friend (and employee) Jorge would tell you, between sips of beer, that he loves bodice rippers. According to him, he prefers the books with Fabio on the cover, and he usually picks a couple up at the grocery store along with three gallons of chocolate ice cream. He says he always lies to the clerk, saying that the purchases are for his wife.
When Jorge followed Ken to community college, they enrolled in a literature class, which they hated. He actually liked Pride and Prejudice – a fact he kept hidden from Ken. His love for the book is a major reason Jorge hates zombies. One of his last names is Romero, and because of this, he’s always hated the undead since before they took over the world. (This, in Jorge’s eyes, actually makes them more sympathetic, because the world sucks, especially when you rule it.) But he’ll never forgive the walking dead for what they did to his beloved Pride and Prejudice. Never. It’s his sole motivation for putting a bullet between their eyes.
Those are the main human survivors. But what about the Dogs and the minds behind the shape-shifters?
Well, Dr. Crispin is the mastermind who created the Dogs. When Crispin was a kid, his very imaginative father told him he would grow up to become a monster slayer, so Crispin has always been drawn to typical and atypical monster-slayer literature: Epic of Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and Mage: The Hero Discovered and The Hero Defined (he had a short love affair with comics).
Dr. Crispin’s favorite, his absolute favorite and the book that shaped him the most, is Grendel – which is Beowulf told from the monster’s perspective. This book taught him to sympathize with the monster. And it is this book, along with Dune, that formed in his mind a very pivotal notion that monsters make better allies than enemies. Why kill the sand worm if you can ride it? Why kill Grendel if you can get him to kill for you? This philosophy has driven his life’s work on Pavlov’s Dogs.
Crispin’s pet Dog, Alpha McLoughlin, loves the Mack Bolan books – he especially enjoys the ones by Doug Wojtowicz. In fact, the Alpha prefers books featuring a real hero, a morally sound and righteous defender of the people. He also enjoys stories with high body counts. He and Ken could trade libraries, probably.
Yet despite his love for virtuous heroes, Alpha McLoughlin also has a fascination for well-crafted villains like Cormac McCarthy’s Judge Holden and Shakespeare’s Iago. The Alpha Dog is engrossed by the criminal mind, especially the reasoning and justification behind its misdeeds. His fascination is largely driven by the fact that he cannot fathom why people do evil things – it’s something he may never truly understand.
This brings us to Dr. Crispin’s new neurotechnician, Dr. Donovan. When the world first ends, Crispin wants to send his Dogs as a rescue team to bring survivors back to the island, but Donovan tries to convince him to hoard their resources and post the Dogs as island guards. Donovan has never really enjoyed reading, except for scientific journals and non-fiction. Possibly his favorite book is a true account of cannibalism, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors. The lengths to which the human being can be driven to survive have always interested Donovan. Now here at the end of the world, he’s about to find out just how far he himself is willing to go...
About the Authors
D.L. SNELL is a novelist and short story writer. Anthologies include Pocket Books' Blood Lite series, edited by best-selling author Kevin J. Anderson. Snell's novella "Mortal Gods" garnered an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow's BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR, and his first novel, Roses of Blood on Barbwire Vines, also attained critical acclaim from popular novelists such as New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry.
THOM BRANNAN (est. 1976, Chicago, Illinois) is an American author from Austin, Texas. He's a former submariner and nuclear field worker, now working on an overseas offshore installation. He is married and has one boy, one baby girl, one dog, and one turtle.
He is the co-editor (with John Sunseri) of the first two volumes of the Cthulhu Unbound anthology series. He co-authored Survivors, the final book in Z.A. Recht's Morningstar Saga after the original author's passing. His first solo novel, Lords of Night, is to be released by Permuted Press.
Thom edited the Permuted Press edition of Anthony Giangregorio's Dead End and Travis Adkins' After Twilight: Walking With the Dead, as well as performing copy-editing work for HorrorBound Online Magazine's Return of the Raven and Fear of the Dark anthologies.
Dark Tomorrow features his serial fiction, mosty set in the Cthulhu Mythos.
Thom is an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.
Thom Brannan has mostly eluded my Google skills, but you can stalk him on Goodreads.
Dr. Crispin has engineered the saviors of mankind: Pavlov’s Dogs, a team of soldiers capable of transforming into fearsome beasts. But when Crispin and his team welcome a new talented neurotechnician to the island, Dr. Crispin quickly realizes his masterwork has fallen into the hands of a man he does not trust.
Back on the mainland, Ken Bishop and his best friend Jorge get caught in a traffic jam on their way home from work. There’s a wreck up ahead. And something worse. The first sign of a major outbreak—and Ken and Jorge are stuck in the gridlock. They quickly realize that they not only need to escape, but they also need to save as many people as possible on the way.
Now Dr. Crispin and his team must make a terrible decision. Should they send the Dogs out into the zombie apocalypse to rescue survivors? Or should they listen to the new neurotechnician, who would have them hoard their resources and post the Dogs as island guards?
Be sure to add it to your TBR list on Goodreads!